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How To Change The Background In Your Pictures. Basic Photo Enhancement Tutorial PHOTOSHOP and GIMP

Updated on October 15, 2017

What is this tutorial about?

This is a tutorial on how to customize a photo, giving it more life and making it look more dramatic. This tutorial is focused nor on landscape type photos but many of the steps are useful for other kinds of photography. For this tutorial we will be using the program described below, GIMP.

What is GIMP and how do I download it?

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an image editing program.GIMP is released under the GPLv3 license as free and open-sourced software. For more information on GPLv3 license see here: . You can do many things with GIMP, including: cropping, editing, free-form drawing, digital painting, resizing, converting image formats and many more tasks. If you know what Adobe Photoshop is, think of GIMP as a kind of free version of that program.

Since GIMP is released under the GPLv3 license it is free to download, use, study, share (copy), and modify the software. You can download GIMP from here: .

Let's get started!

For this tutorial we will be using two free stock photos from the internet. The first photograph is of a nice little scene of some cool clouds. You can download it from here . The second photograph is of York Castle. It's a nice photo but just a little plain (don't worry, we'll fix that). You can download the photo here . Now that we got what we need to continue this tutorial let's move on to step number one.

Deleting Unwanted Objects

Okay, let's open GIMP. Go to File>Open As Layers and select the two photographs we downloaded in the previous step. You can select multiple images by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking the files. Right click each image and select Add Alpha Channel. Now the files are opened in GIMP

Next, switch over to the image of the castle. To do this you can click the eye next to the sky layer and select the castle layer. For this Image we will first delete the man standing at the top and the light on the ground to the right of the castle. Then we will delete the handrail at the top of the castle.

Zoom in to around 400%. Select the Rectangular Selection tool in the toolbox on the left side of your screen. It looks like a square made of dotted lines (Shortcut: Press the "R" key). Make a selection around the man standing on the roof. You can simply press the delete key since we will be removing the sky and the hand rail later on.

Now move to the light on the ground to the right of the caste. Since this object is sitting on a rounded hill and isn't an exact rectangle, we will use the free-form selection tool. The free-form selection tool looks like a lasso. Shortcut: press the "F" key. Now simply click around the object on the path you want the outline to following. End this by joining your last point to your first point. After you have made the selection you can also delete this object since we will also be deleting the sky behind it.

Removing The Sky

Now we will remove the sky in the background so we can replace it with a cooler looking photo of sky and clouds. This step takes a lot of patience so, don't rush or the result won't be what you want it to be. Star off by zooming to around 200%. We will again use the free-form selection tool. Shortcut: "F" key. Now, you will need to trace along the edge of the ground and the castle and up around the top of the sky. After you have made the whole selection press the delete key. Now do the same for the two small pieces of sky peeking through the windows. The result should look like something below.

Now, right click the castle layer and duplicate. Select the top castle layer. Desaturate the image by going to Colors>Desaturate. Select Lightness then click on OK. Now we will add a Gaussian Blur. Go to Filters>Blur> Gaussian Blur. I set my Horizontal and Vertical to 3. Okay, now we're going to change the Mode of the layer to Overlay. You can do this by clicking the drop down box in the layers toolbar, as shown in the image to the right. Change the opacity to around 85-88% .

Inserting New Cloudy Sky

Now select your cloud layer, make it visible by clicking the left blank box where the little eye should be. Next, move the layer below the castle layers. You're going to want to resize this layer. To do this select the scale layer tool in the toolbox to the right of your screen. It looks like a small square and a big square with a diagonal arrow through both. Shortcut: Shift+T. Scale to 1260x768. Right click the cloud layer and select Duplicate. Select the top cloud layer and change the mode to Multiply. Now, Duplicate that layer and Desaturate it by going to Colors>Desaturate. Now change the mode to Overlay and set the Opacity to 60.

Saving And Cropping

Now we can finish this masterpiece. Go to File>Export and save your work. After that open the image with Windows Photo Gallery and crop it to your liking. The end result should look something like the image below. Great work, you did it! Thanks for taking the time to read my tutorial and feel free to leave a comment or post links to your version of this work.


My Other Gimp Tutorials

Text To Path

How to make text follow a path.

Gimp Forum Signature Tutorial

A simple tutorial on making a Mario Bros. forum signature.

If there is anything you would like to see me make a tutorial on please, leave a comment below.

© 2013 Zachariah Kaer


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Please make more GIMP tuts. Yours are very easy to follow along with.

    • ZachKaer profile imageAUTHOR

      Zachariah Kaer 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Sheila, it's a great program. I have been using it for years. For everything from editing photos to making stuff for crafts like printing cut-outs and stuff. TY for the comment.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very cool! I'll have to download the program and give it a try.

    • ZachKaer profile imageAUTHOR

      Zachariah Kaer 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for the comment drpennypincher, hopefully this tutorial will come in handy for you in the future.

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 

      5 years ago from Iowa, USA

      This is a nice tutorial on image editing using GIMP- I have bookmarked this for future reference.


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